Departmental Papers (Dental)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Cellular Microbiology








Cytolethal distending toxins (Cdt) are a family of toxins produced by several human pathogens which infect mucocutaneous tissue and induce inflammatory disease. We have previously demonstrated that the Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans Cdt induces a pro-inflammatory response from human macrophages which involves activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome. We now demonstrate that in addition to activating caspase-1 (canonical inflammasome), Cdt treatment leads to caspase-4 activation and involvement of the noncanonical inflammasome. Cdt-treated cells exhibit pyroptosis characterised by cleavage of gasdermin-D (GSDMD), release of HMGB1 at 24 hr and LDH at 48 hr. Inhibition of either the canonical (caspase-1) or noncanonical (caspase-4) inflammasome blocks both Cdt-induced release of IL-1β and induction of pyroptosis. Analysis of upstream events indicates that Cdt induces Syk phosphorylation (activation); furthermore, blockade of Syk expression and inhibition of pSyk activity inhibit both Cdt-induced cytokine release and pyroptosis. Finally, we demonstrate that increases in pSyk are dependent upon Cdt-induced activation of GSK3β. These studies advance our understanding of Cdt function and provide new insight into the virulence potential of Cdt in mediating the pathogenesis of disease caused by Cdt-producing organisms such as A. actinomycetemcomitans. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans; inflammasome; mechanism of action; microbial–cell interaction; toxins

Included in

Dentistry Commons



Date Posted: 08 December 2022

This document has been peer reviewed.